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Bush’s Former Iraq Ambassador Calls For Air Strikes 'If Useful'

Friday, June 13, 2014

Zalmay Khalilzad, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan and the United Nations under George W. Bush, discusses the security collapse in Iraq with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. He said that the United States must help Iraqis do what they can to prevent the fall of Baghdad — even possibly airstrikes.

“If it can be useful, why not?” he said. “You have to look at whether there Iraqi forces that remain that can take advantage of the airstrike, or can the airstrike alone delay the movement forward by the extremists or the opposition forces, so the Iraqi forces can regroup. You also need to take into account what the Kurds are saying, because they are in a strong position with organized forces. So you need to get a good assessment of what is needed, given what’s going on on the ground, and then see what U.S. contribution can be to prevent the fall of Baghdad.”

Khalizad also expressed disappointment in the Iraq Army laying down their arms, despite the U.S. spending billions of dollars to build up the country’s military, and the loss of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq from 2003 to 2012.

“That was very disheartening,” he said. “It shows that they did not believe in the mission that they were given, that there had been a degree of, perhaps, de-professionalization since we left, of the Iraqi forces, and that they were caught by surprise and they didn’t have support. But it was certainly disheartening and disappointing, to say the least.”

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Source: NPR

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